Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
Role of the Assistant Coach

January 11th, 2022

When a coaching staff is a well-oiled machine that presents a united front, it just makes the whole program more successful...

No matter if you are in total agreement with each other or not.

Here's a new article about the role of the assistant coach and how they can support the head coach. These are some great tips from one of our very own coaches here at Breakthrough Basketball...

Mark Brase is our Product Development Director, and he's been both an assistant and head coach with over 25 years of experience from youth to college, so he comes at this from a unique perspective.

It's a great read - hope you enjoy it!

The Role of the Assistant Basketball Coach

Everyone you work with as a head coach or assistant coach is unique. So, your experience with them will be slightly unique as well. No two head coaches will be the same, so you will need to adapt slightly on all new coaching experiences, but hopefully some of what I say will be helpful to you.

I have served as an assistant coach at middle school through college levels, and I have served as head coach from youth through high school levels, and every coaching experience is also unique!

As an assistant coach I've had all types of experiences - some of those depending on who the head coach was.

I had experiences where what the head coach was doing wasn't anything close to what I felt I'd do.

I had experiences where all I was trying to do was absorb and learn as much as I could from the head coach.

No matter what the situation, you are there to support the head coach and the program.

Trust And Relationships Are Crucial

One thing that I always felt was important was not being a "yes man" to the head coach. I always answered any questions truthfully and honestly. I wanted what was best for the team and the only way to do this is being honest, in my opinion.

Sometimes my answer disagreed with head coaches, sometimes it didn't. But once a decision was made by the head coach, I supported it 100% (whether I had agreed or not).

A lot of these things worked so well, and our teams had a lot of success, because of the trust and the united front we put forth. The head coach knew that I had his back with the players and with the parents.

I had developed a relationship with the head coach over years. I KNEW that he trusted me and didn't question my motive for anything. I could be brutally honest, and was on many occasions, but only because I had already developed a level of trust.

Would I have been so blunt with my opinion if I was new to the staff? Absolutely not.

And this is where having a feel for the head coach, and the relationship you have developed, come into play.

But you always want to be honest and share your opinion when asked. If the head coach doesn't agree, that's ok. You've voiced your opinion - support their decision and move on.

Alleviating Stress

There is more stress on a head coach. I know this from being both a head coach and an assistant.

There are a lot of great things about being the head coach and running the program, but there are also a lot of great things about being an assistant coach.

For me, as an assistant, I felt I could focus much more just on the coaching aspect and breaking down film, as opposed to some of the day-to-day headaches of running a program.

What can you do to help alleviate those headaches for the head coach?

Start by asking if there is anything you can take off their plate.

For one head coach, I did all of the subbing for several years. So, I rotated players in and out of the game. For the head coach, it allowed them to focus on different areas during the game, and it also helped alleviate one of the biggest issues a head coach might deal with, playing time.

Since I was the one doing the subbing, the players and parents didn't see it as just the head coach determining playing time...they knew we were on the same page as a coaching staff.

Evaluation And Reflection

Have an informal sit-down evaluation at the end of the season. Hopefully it is sometime after the season and you've both had time to reflect on the season. You can...

1 - Ask for feedback and what went well this season and areas you can improve on as an assistant.

2 - Share what you thought went well and if you have any concerns, now is the time to voice those concerns.

3 - Maybe have 2 or 3 things that you know you can take off their plate next season that would help and you'd be comfortable doing. It could be a wide variety of things, like...

  • Be in charge of uniform check in/check out
  • Implement all inbounds plays
  • Design a practice plan once a week (one you share with the head coach in advance so you get approval).

And again, if your head coach doesn't let you implement any of your ideas.....try not to take it personal. That just might be the type of head coach they are. But you can always keep trying and keep offering.

Be Specific With Advice

One thing that I did not enjoy when I was a head coach was when I would hear the same problems over and over from an assistant coach, without a suggested solution.

Maybe our offense wasn't effective one game and an assistant coach would remind me on the bench over and over that the offense was not working.

It was obvious we were struggling on offense. As a head coach I don't want to hear that over and over. Instead, give me a suggestion of something to try, or why you think it is not working.

I may agree or disagree with your suggestion, but I would definitely appreciate you attempting to help me solve a problem with a specific idea or observation.

Try Not To Take Things Personally

This is sometimes easier said than done. Coaching is stressful. Being a head coach is even more stressful. Over the course of a season, there are likely times the head coach will say or act in a way that might offend you.

TRY not to take it personal. Tough, I know, but usually they are frustrated with something the team is doing/not doing, or maybe frustrated with an email from a parent, and simply taking it out on those around them.

Let it be water off your back. We all get caught up in the heat of the moment at times.

Hope this helps you define your role as assistant coach. It's a pretty important position!

Here's the link to this article if you want to share or leave your thoughts:

The Role of the Assistant Basketball Coach

A Quick Note On Camps... And Breakthrough Coach's HS Team Gets 300th Win in Illinois

In case you missed it, there is a 20% early-bird discount for our spring and summer basketball camps and we are accepting payments in order to reserve your spot.

Also, a quick reminder that we do limit the amount of players we accept at each camp to ensure high-quality instruction and high coach-to-player ratios.

We also wanted to give a shout to Rob Brost who is the author of the Man Left Defense...

He just got his 300th career win!

This year he's also led his Bolingbrook Raiders team to a current #4 ranking and were even ranked #1 in the state of Illinois a few weeks ago... And Illinois has over 770 teams in the state.

Warm Regards,

-Joe Haefner
Breakthrough Basketball